Smell Cookie, Spend Loosely

On a tight budget and using equal parts willpower and behavior self-modification? Stay away from the cookie places in the mall. The September 2008 issue of ShopSmart says studies show that even just catching a whiff of your favorite treat can increase your urge to splurge.

(Photo: oohmygeez)


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  1. STrRedWolf says:

    I like the smell of technology in the morning.

  2. mexifelio says:

    Even better, stay away from the mall in the first place.

  3. thelushie says:

    Even better, just hide under your bed with your eyes closed and fingers in ears. No temptation there! LOL (joking)

  4. You know, I can feel my inhibitions loosening just by looking at that photo!

  5. Preyfar says:

    I hate to say it, yeah… fresh baked cookies are an orgasmic smell. I used to live near the Nabisco factory in Philadelphia, and it was an amazing smell to wake up to.

    Makes you happy, and spendy.

  6. DeleteThisAccount says:

    there a pepperidge farm factory down the street from me…. maybe that explains why i am always broke?

  7. TheBovaEffect says:

    I find myself partial to the pretzel places at the mall.

    I was never a fan of sweets, but salty foods always get me… especially when there is a dipping sauce involved.

  8. krunk4ever says:

    I wonder if smelling something horribly bad would make you spend less ;p

  9. pixiegirl1 says:

    Seeing that picture makes me want a cookie! nom nom nom! Cookies can make me do anything!

  10. TechnoDestructo says:

    I suspect that the likelihood of purchasing cookies increases to a higher degree than does the likelihood of purchasing anything else.

  11. nfs says:

    Now the whole mall is gonna smell like cookies.

    Clothes, Books, Build-a-bear…
    ..and soon, the Christmas tree.

    Better carry only cash.

  12. BMRFILE says:

    Luckily I don’t have a sweet tooth. I like a good cookie every once in awhile, but if cookies seize to exist in our civilization, I would be fine with it.

    Salted pistachios, on the other hand…

  13. Dabigkid says:

    From the article:

    “[…] many of these studies were conducted in the Oxford Journal of Duuuuhhhhhh.”

  14. rlue says:

    I hate to be a devil’s advocate here, but has anyone considered that it’s important to our psychological welfare to make irrational decisions from time to time? If you’re really aching for a cookie, the utility you derive from buying it can be higher than putting that money away in a bank. And if that cookie manages to brighten your day, isn’t that a legitimate improvement in your quality of life?

    Just a friendly reminder that we’re humans as well as consumers.

  15. notbob50 says:

    There’s an old Realator trick to have bread baking in the oven when showing the house. It’s supposed to give the potential buyers a feeling of comfort.

  16. Gordon2 says:

    I know that a local chain of wedding ring stores has chocolate chip cookies baking in the store throughout the day. It’s corporate policy. They will also supply you with bottled water, soft drinks, and in some cases, wine and beer while they discuss your choices with you.

  17. mike says:

    Sometimes I wonder how they study stuff like this. How do they measure your wanting to spend?

  18. RandomHookup says:

    @linus: I’ve seen some of these experiments before. Control group fills out a computer survey asking how much they are willing to pay for a needed item. Next group comes in and there’s a tray of warm cookies placed in the room next door (perhaps with apologies because there is a meeting going on as soon as they are finished). That group completes the same survey and probably ends up spending more.

  19. RandomHookup says:

    @pixiegirl1: Here, little girl. I have snickerdoodles and congo bars. Hmmmm, yummy…

  20. cerbie says:

    @rlue: yes. The point, though, is to be aware of as much as possible that is influencing your decisions. You cannot become immune to the smell of fresh cookies, pizza, hot tortillas, or whatever else. You can, however, go into a situation where it urges you to spend more than you wanted to, and then later not really know why you did it. Or, you can go in knowing full well the effect. The latter gives you a greater chance to resist it, should you want to.

    @nfs: nah, they will smell like cookie-scented paraffin candles, or something else, that isn’t quite like cookie. :)

  21. SkokieGuy says:

    The grocery stores put in bread bakeries years ago for this exact reason. The researchers are studying a long ago studies and proven phenomenon.

  22. Szin says:

    Shop Smart. Shop S Mart.

    Actually, I think Cinnabon might be worse than cookies in a mall. Man, those things smell like frosted heaven.

  23. mariospants says:

    There’s probably a rational explanation for all of this. Cookies can’t be evil. Likely, the smell triggers a hunger response and the shopper then becomes a “hunter”: hunting for bargains to satiate the appetite. Grrrrr

  24. Parting says:

    Coffee… Hmmm….

    @mariospants: That is correct. Also, the smell triggers memories of ”enjoyment and happiness” you had last time you ate that cookie.

  25. Trai_Dep says:

    Hate to be a party pooper, but I’ll bet a lot of those “cookie” or “bread” smells come straight from a can.

  26. @Trai_Dep: In high school I worked at a place that was directly across the street from an artificial smell company. They would develop and test artificial smell. That was it. Banana month smelled lovely, but strawberry month never smelled a bit like strawberries. (More like that reek of those old Strawberry Shortcake dolls.) Popcorn month I spent the entire month feeling like I was going to VOMIT, it was unbearable.

    Anyway, I got pretty good at telling fake from real smells, and some of those cookie places do add extra cookie smell, which just strikes me as bizarre.

  27. Grive says:

    @Preyfar: Really? You got a nice smell? Lucky you.

    I had a short stint at a warehouse that was literally 30 feet from the baking ovens of a local cookie company (which is quite big, anyway). The smell… my god, the smell. I later learnt that all the little crumbs and bits of dough that fell down during the process weren’t cleaned all to regularly, so it was the smell of burning old cookie crumbs haunted me.

  28. deltaalfadelta says:

    I worked at a store that sold high patio furniture and some home furnishings. We got a small convection oven that was specifically designed to be used in stores to bake cookies. We even signed up to have boxes of preformed dough balls delivered on a regular basis.
    I think that the only thing that making cookies did was get me an extra 10 pounds.

  29. ennTOXX says:

    they had a cookie shop at my local bmw dealership. needless to say, i walked out buying 2 cars that day… :||

  30. Kishi says:

    Excellent. I think I’ll bring in warm cookies when I go ask for a car loan. Maybe it’ll work in my favor.